Are you getting all the information you need on your competition?
Or does your competition have the information upper hand on you.
Success in tomorrow’s world means having the most complete, accurate and up-to-the-moment information on your competitors.
Today it is possible to obtain this information legally and ethically if you know how to access it or know how to hire someone who knows how to access it. In spite of this knowledge, it is amazing how many firms float along with absolutely no system of collecting information about their competitors.
Without competitive information you lose customers and market share due to your own carelessness, laziness or lack of knowledge. Some of the most serious battles in American corporate history are centered around this hot spot of competitive intelligence. In the last few years we have seen Motorola, Hitachi, Texas Instruments and Intel wage war on the corporate battlefield. We have seen international battles between Japan and America. We have seen corporate spying in its most unethical and destructive forms.
Competitive intelligence is an ancient art which is here to stay. So, here are a few ideas to help you pump up your ability to keep customers and gain new customers by effective and ethical use of this ancient art, with a high-tech twist.
- Accept that we are entering a new world of intellectual capital which can be tangible, in the forms of patents and copyrights, or intangible in the form of emerging technology. This intellectual capital is changing the face of business.
- Locate the resources that have the ability to provide you with the up-to-the-minute information you need. Data Times, of Oklahoma City, is an example of a firm that specializes in providing you this information electronically. Dow Jones News/Retrieval is another master source of financial and competitive information.
- Develop an ethics statement regarding competitive intelligence and how far you are willing to go to get the information you want. Publicize it so your people have guidelines to work from.
- Hire a good intelligence analyst who is a master of puzzles. Consider their pay as an investment in your marketing and customer effort rather than an expense in your operations department.
- Learn to use your salespeople as your “eyes” in the field. Develop a system where their information can flow into a central source so a pattern can emerge and information can be collated into useful strategic action.
- If your competition is publicly held, buy a share of stock – become a shareholder. This will enable you to receive all company information direct from them.
- Plan strategies to head off your competition at the pass. Good information is useless until it is put into action.
- Have people at all levels of your organization sit down and compare notes on the competition’s strengths and weaknesses. You will be amazed at how much information you already possess.